Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

In this look at human impact on our environment, Weisman imagines a big what if. What if all humans were suddenly to disappear? Maybe a pandemic specific only to humans, or else the rapture arrives and spirits everyone off the planet. How long would our cities last before returning to wilderness? (Not long at all, as it turns out.) What about impressive feats of engineering like the Chunnel between France and England, or the Panama Canal? What would happen to agricultural cropland and farm animals? Nuclear power plants?

There are places in the world that give us an indication of the resiliency of nature; places like the area around Chernobyl and the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. There are some scary things to think about in this book but there is also hope. It's a fascinating combination of science and imagination.

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